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OCO-2

The OCO-2 Satellite launch

The OCO-2 Satellite launch

You’re reading this now, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you like sci-fi films too. You might even enjoy science docudramas, especially those made with a Hollywood budget.

Maybe even movies like Apollo 13, one of my personal favorites.

Remember when Mission Control notices the carbon dioxide levels in the cabin rising due to regular, everyday, normal breathing? Yes, I know…astronauts? Breathing? Hard to imagine, but they do. That was 3 men in an airtight vessel with CO2 scrubbers, so the rising levels were just a matter of time; there was no avoiding it under the conditions they were faced with.

Now, want to hear something really scary?

The same thing is happening on Earth right now. Combine industrial emissions, deforestation, and severe overpopulation and, sooner or later, that’s the inevitable outcome.

So what do we do about it?

First thing we need to know is how excessive the carbon dioxide levels have become. For that, we turn to NASA and the OCO-2 (Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2) satellite, which was launched on July 2nd from Vandenburg AFB, California.

So what is the probe going to do about it?

It’s going to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 24 times every second to determine where the high and low levels are, where the emissions are coming from, and where they are being dissipated.

So why are we doing this?

Because about 250 years ago, before the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels planetwide were about 280 parts per million. And now? They’re about 400 parts per million. Why the increase?

Us. Humans.

Humans put about 40 billion tons of CO2 into the air every year. Natural filters like trees remove only about half of that. Fortunately, we live on a big planet, but in time, the levels will become lethal to humans.

That’s right. It’s going to prove fatal to most life eventually.

And the Earth? It will go on fine without us.

Too bad it’s not a dream.

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